Which Visibility Accelerator Needs the Most Attention?

As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, certain activities and behaviors are more productive and will accelerate your efforts. These “accelerators” are like putting rocket fuel in a Honda Civic. When you “step on the gas,” you will enhance your presence and reputation faster than ever before. And these activities and behaviors can be easily integrated into your already busy workday.

Which of the following visibility accelerators needs the most attention on your end?

Introduce yourself – the degree in which you introduce yourself to new colleagues and make a great first impression.

Be accessible – The degree in which colleagues can reach you and benefit from the interaction.

Be responsive – The degree in which you get back to your colleagues and foster progress.

Interact with others – The degree in which you engage one-to-one with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Participate with a purpose – The degree in which you engage in one-to-many activities with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Engage with industry associations – The degree in which you interact and participate with colleagues outside of your organization.

Manage your reputation – How your colleagues think or speak about you when you are not present.

Value is the New Corporate Currency!

The head-spinning advances in technology, endless bottom-line financial pressures, and growing networks of global economies demand a need for superior performance and sustainable efficiencies. Organizations aspire to motivate their employees to do better, be more productive, and get more engaged. Leaders seek ways to create a common language behind which organizational goals and activities can align. What can replace the void that is being creating by the slow demise of performance management systems?

The answer is value creation. The language being used to define success is slowly and quietly shifting from performance to value. If you listen, you can hear “value creation” everywhere. I’ve been listening. I hear recruiters talk about the importance of creating value. As one recruiter said at a panel I attended, “Don’t tell me what you did. Tell me the value you created for your employer. Tell me how you made a difference.” I hear entrepreneurs talk about ensuring the products and services they aspire to bring to market create value in ways that don’t currently exist. At my Apple iPhone orientation, an Apple employee enthusiastically espoused that “the thousands of apps that you will now have access to will add value to your life.” The good performance of the iPhone was assumed – it was the value of the apps that excited him.

How does value exist within your organization? Has a conversation about value begun? Does your organization realize it has overinvested in performance management and underinvested in value creation? Whatever your situation, value is the new corporate currency. It is the vehicle upon which the exchange between individual contributions and organizational rewards is occurring. Slowly and quietly, numerical and bell curve-based performance management systems are being shipped to the scrap heap as business leaders seek robust and meaningful ways to increase individual contributions.

Measuring the value that you create for your organization is gaining your boss’ attention. Why? Value requires a foundation of good performance, ties your performance to business objectives and financial metrics, and creates a new way to motivate and align you in ways that are more rewarding for everyone involved.

How to be on Time

Being on time is an important part of my public profile. Whether as a corporate employee or an independent consultant, I have always believed there are a million ways to be early and yet, if you are late, you are late. Of the hundreds of meetings that I’ve attended as an independent consultant over the past seven years, you can count the number of times I have been late on one hand, regardless of where the meeting is being held.

When leaving for a scheduled appointment, there are a few assumptions that I make. The first is that I always want to arrive at my location at least 15 minutes early. This allows me time to park or check in with the security desk. I always bring other work to do in case I arrive more than 15 minutes before a scheduled appointment. Secondly, I always assume that some unexpected issue is waiting on the highway. After all, you are joining a traffic system where thousands of other people are making their way as well – who knows what can happen? Whether it is ongoing congestion, a person changing a flat tire on their car, or road work, there always seems to be some sort of situation encouraging a slowdown. Lastly, I take weather into account. Snow and rain complicate roadways and slow traffic down considerably.

To be on time, here are four things I take into consideration:

What is the time of day? – Traffic patterns can vary greatly by the time of day. When traveling on routes 128, 93 or 95, the clearest part of the day seems to be after 10:00am and before 2:00pm. Before and after these times is exposed to rush hour congestion. So, if I have an appointment before 10:00am or after 2:00pm, I always add at least 30 minutes on my travel schedule.

How far away is it? – The longer your trip, the greater the likelihood that a problem can arise. For locations greater than 30 minutes away, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule.

How familiar am I with where I am going? – How many times have you been sure you know where you are going, only to realize how lost you are once you are near? This seems to happen to me often. For first time location visits, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule in case I need to conduct a turnaround or stop and ask for directions. (Yes, I am a male and I do ask for directions!)

How’s the weather? – If it is snowing or raining out, I always add 15 minutes to my travel schedule.

For example, if I have a meeting in downtown Boston, at a new location, on a snowy day, and that starts at 9:00am, I always leave my house in Wakefield by 7:15am. (On a Sunday morning, this is about a 20 minute drive). This provides me an hour to navigate congestion during the rush hour on a snowy day, locate where I am going, and additional time to find parking and make it through a security check-in. If I arrive earlier than planned, I always have client work on which to focus. I can grab a cup of coffee and plan the rest of my workday. Most importantly, I can breathe easily that I am on time for my appointment.

Try this strategy – it works! Watch next week for my blog as we will explore ways in which you can raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry.

Why Join Industry Associations? (Part 2 of 2)

You can engage with your industry for a variety of reasons including:

Identify talent. Due to changing demographics, the employment marketplace continues to be highly competitive. Your organization’s fast-changing technologies make some skills instantly obsolete and some skills inordinately valuable. Your organization’s fast-changing business model requires talent in new locations across the globe. Your organization’s strategic growth demands that a talent pipeline exist at all times, not just when a need arises. While talent is easier to find due to technological advances (i.e., resume readers) and social media (i.e., LinkedIn), talent is harder to land as everyone else is using the same technology and social media tools. Industry associations provide rich reserves of talent in which you can tap to help you and your organization fill the pipeline. Some of these individuals may be between jobs, while others are actively and happily employed. Regardless of their status, you will meet many talented colleagues who can fill current or future needs through industry associations.
Hear best practices. Industry associations provide services to their members that focus on building community, providing education, and creating opportunity though:
Meetings. Industry associations host member meeting on a recurring basis. These meetings may include opportunities to raise your visibility with colleagues, discussions regarding the industry, or presentations by industry experts.
Workshops and webinars. Industry associations host workshops and webinars for members, usually with an external speaker or facilitator, to help members build their skills and learn new information.
Panels. Industry associations host panel presentations comprised of industry leaders (maybe you!) to share information and create dialogue.
Conferences. Industry associations host one- to three-day conferences designed to bring together thought leaders and vendors to showcase the very best that the industry has to offer. The downside is that industry conferences are usually located at beautiful destinations, held in gorgeous conference centers, and surrounded by luxurious accommodations. Not a bad downside.
Introduce best practices. Perhaps you are attending an industry event during the workday. Perhaps your organization has paid for your industry association dues or registration fees. If you are attending industry events where information is being shared, it is expected that you introduce best practices back at your workplace that will help your organization achieve its goals. If you don’t share what you are experiencing at an industry event with your boss or introduce best practices to your organization, your boss may begin to question the value of your participation. Many of your colleagues have heard about how to implement a Six Sigma process improvement, how to integrate changes to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and how to transition to a WordPress website at an industry meeting. Hearing about these best practices is interesting – introducing them back to your organization is priceless.
Meet experts. You have a lot going on at your organization and a key asset to accelerating your progress is meeting someone who has already done what you are doing. Whatever you are attempting to introduce or implement at your organization, there is someone who has “been there, done that.” Industry associations are fantastic places to meet colleagues who can provide you valuable insights, compelling lessons, and meaningful recommendations to ensure your success. In some cases, the experience of a colleague pays for your membership many times over.
Demonstrate openness. Your fast-paced organization demands your attention and effort 100% of the time, but your fast-paced industry also makes it challenging to stay current. By engaging with your industry, you demonstrate to your internal clients and colleagues that you are not satisfied with the status quo. If you want to keep your organization on the cutting edge, you have to stay sharp. Industry associations are a great place to sharpen your edge.
Looking for ways to raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry? Try joining an industry association group for the benefits listed above.

Why Join Industry Associations? (Part 1 of 2)

As you work to raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry, your desire to attend an industry association meeting probably feels like a dream. Your ability to attend industry meetings during your workday, after your workday ends, or on the weekend is compromised in the following ways:

Lack of energy. You are so exhausted by the demands of your job that the thought of getting excited and energized for an industry activity, especially after your workday ends, is beyond your capacity. By the time the clock strikes 6:00 pm, you are physically tired and mentally tapped-out.
Lack of time. You have too much to do! So many of your colleagues are depending on you to do your job that the idea of taking time away from work seems impossible. How can you find time when your calendar is double- or triple-booked? Your fear of the volume of work waiting for you when you return from being away for the office is a major disincentive.
Lack of information. You are so deep into the activities, tasks, and requirements of your job that you are not even aware of industry activities that are going on around you. You are more focused on joining a conference call or getting to a conference room than you are on attending an industry conference. Even if you wanted to attend an industry event, you would not know where to start.
Lack of support. Even if you register for an industry meeting or event, your attendance is at risk due to last minute “issues” at your organization. An urgent phone call from you boss politely asking you to alter your plans is more likely than you attending the industry event. Or, your boss believes that engaging with your industry is something you do after the workday ends or on the weekend. If you do attend an industry event, you are distracted due to an onslaught of emails and phone calls from work. While it is nice to be needed by your colleagues, you wonder why your colleagues can’t seem to get along without you, even for just one day.
You are not alone. In today’s fast-paced and fast-changing organizations, it is hard to find the time, energy, and support to attend industry events. However, in addition to raising your visibility and value within your organization, it is more important than ever to raise your visibility outside of your organization as well.

Read more about the benefits of attending an industry association meeting in my next blog.

What is Tangible and Intangible Accessibility? (Part 2 of 2)

As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, visibility is comprised of presence (the tangible ways that individuals connect with you) and reputation (the intangible ways that individuals connect with you). Similarly, accessibility has tangible and intangible characteristics.

Intangible Accessibility

Do you create a welcoming atmosphere that reflects your desire to be accessible? When your colleagues comes to see you, is your behavior creating or hindering access? Here are some ways to create a welcoming atmosphere that inspires access.

Your office or workstation chair is facing the door. This way, you are able to see colleagues as they enter your office or workstation. When your back is facing the entrance to your office or workstation, you are subliminally sending the message “Don’t interrupt me.”
You stand and welcome colleagues to your office or workstation. To minimize the perception that your colleagues are interrupting you, demonstrate that your colleagues are not bothering you by physically welcoming them to the conversation.
You ask your colleague how you can help them. Even though your colleagues have come to see you, take the lead. When you answer your phone, you are the first one to say something like “Hi. This is Carl.” When you respond to a knock on your door, you are the first one to say something like “Hello. Can I help you?” Colleagues entering your office or workstation should be treated in the same way. Welcome colleagues to your office by taking the first step.
Do your interactions with colleagues inspire them to reach out to you again? Once you have welcomed your colleagues into the conversation, is your behavior helping or hindering the goal of the reason your colleagues came to see you in the first place? Here are some ways to inspire your colleagues to reach out to you in the future.

You have the answer at that moment. This is the simplest way to ensure your colleagues benefit from the interaction with you. You have an answer to their need and you can provide the answer at that moment.
You have the answer, yet you are not available at the moment. Just because someone is attempting to ask you a question or ask for help does not mean you have to respond at that moment. Your fast-paced and frenzied work organizations do not leave a lot of free time for unanticipated interruptions. If you are not available at the moment a colleague comes to see you, yet you can help her, let your colleague know that you are busy as the moment and schedule a time to reconnect.
You don’t have an answer, but you will get an answer for them. You may be the best person to help your colleagues, yet you don’t know the answer. Let your colleagues know you can help them but you will need time to get the answer. Schedule a time to reconnect.
You don’t have an answer and direct them to someone who does. You don’t have to know everything! If you are not the best person to help your colleagues, don’t just send them away without benefiting from their interaction with you. Identify another colleague who can assist them further.

What is Tangible and Intangible Accessibility? (Part 1 of 2)

As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, visibility is comprised of presence (the tangible ways that individuals connect with you) and reputation (the intangible ways that individuals connect with you). Similarly, accessibility has tangible and intangible characteristics.

Tangible Accessibility

Ensure your colleagues know where your office or workstation is located. Some corporate offices are like labyrinths and finding your office may not be as easy as it sounds. Concurrently, some corporate offices have “cubicle farms” – dozens and dozens of similarly looking workstations that abut one another. Your colleagues could go insane trying to find your location. Rather than confirm that mental health is covered under your organization’s insurance plan, make sure that your colleagues know where your office or workstation is located.
Ensure your colleagues know the hours that you work. In today’s busy and fast-paced organizations, you may have non-standard schedules, either to fit the needs of the business or to respond to personal needs. You may work Tuesday through Saturday, or work a ½ day on Wednesdays, or Fridays off. Regardless of your schedule, make sure that your colleagues know your days and hours of work.
Ensure your colleagues know your contact information. Sometimes your colleagues are unable to access you as your colleagues simply do not have your email address, office phone number extension, or cellphone number. Many corporate switchboards are now automated; and if your colleagues do not know your extension number or how to spell your name in the “dial-by-name” directory, finding you can become frustrating. Make sure that your colleagues have your contact information for easy access to you.
Ensure your colleagues know when you are not accessible. As important as it is to create access, it is equally important to ensure that your colleagues know when you are not accessible. You may be out of the office at a meeting, traveling, ill, or, on a rare occasion, enjoying a personal day. Make sure that your colleagues know when you are not available, whom your colleagues can contact during your absence, and when you will return to your office. For example, you can create the following “out-of-office” email that your colleagues will automatically receive until you are back in the office.
“I am currently out of the office, returning next Thursday, January 22nd. If your need is urgent, please contact Susan Jones at 555-555-5555. If you are able to wait, I will begin returning emails when I return to the office. Thank you in advance for your patience.”
My next blog will focus on intangible accessibility. Stay tuned for more!

Nature or Nuture?


The degree in which you interact with colleagues may be driven by your natural interest to interact with others (nature) or the culture of your organization (nurture).  Each of these situations alone can significantly increase or reduce the degree in which you interact with your colleagues.

Imagine the impact to your visibility when you do not possess a natural interest to interact with colleagues and your organization’s culture does not support it – neither nature nor nurture are working in your favor.  When you possess a strong interest to interact with others and the culture of your organization supports such interaction, it’s magic!

Œ–  No time to interact with others + low interest.  Your interaction with others is limited to meetings and conference calls.  You are not interested in interacting with others and you justify that your low interaction is due to the lack of time you have at work to do anything but keep your “nose to the grindstone.”  You are at risk of becoming invisible in and irrelevant to your organization.

–  No time to interact with others + high interest.  While you possess a sincere interest to interact with others, the demands of your job and the culture of your organization are preventing you from doing so.  You are likely very frustrated by the requirements of your job, which is forcibly sequestering you in your office or workstation.  Unless you find a way to satisfy your interest to interact with others, your frustration will grow into dissatisfaction, affecting your work performance in negative ways.

–  A lot of time to interact with others + low interest.  Your job or work environment allows you many opportunities (as stated earlier, this is not unproductive time) to interact with others, yet you have little interest in doing so.  You are at risk of being viewed as an office hermit – reclusive, standoffish, and, at worst, misanthropic.  Your colleagues will demonstrate little patience for your behavior and you will quickly become irrelevant to your organization.

–  A lot of time to interact with others + high interest.  Your organization provides many opportunities to interact with colleagues and you take full advantage of these opportunities.  The high degree to which you interact with colleagues is driven by your interest in doing so.  You recognize the benefits of interacting with colleagues (i.e., increased knowledge, influence, productivity) and take advantage of your organization’s environment to do so.

What Are the Benefits of Being Accessible?

One of the seven Raise Your Visibility and Value visibility accelerators is being accessible, defined as the degree to which colleagues can reach you and benefit from the interaction.

Being accessible benefits everyone. Ram Reddy is a Director, IT Operations for Harte Hanks, one of the world’s largest marketing services companies. Despite the daily challenges he faces in his busy workplace, Ram is committed to being accessible to those who reach out to him.

“Being accessible is a key part of collaboration. Although many of us have offices that physically separate us from one another, it is important to act as though there are no walls. If a colleague needs me, I want her to be able to get to me. Likewise, I like getting out of my office and rather than email a colleague a question, ask him my question or follow-up with him in person. This also allows my colleague to access me in ways that help them.”

When you work to be accessible to your colleagues, you are the one who truly benefits because you:

  • identify issues and problems earlier, leading to quicker resolution, enhancing productivity, and reducing frustration.
  • increase your influence in your organization as you become a “go-to” person who is known for helping others solve problems.
  • create opportunities for yourself to participate in activities that are meaningful to your career and your organization.
  • bolster your reputation in your organization and industry by modeling behavior that your colleagues can emulate.